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IMPORTANT PRODUCT INFORMATION: To get started using Zune HD, download the latest software to your PC from zune.net/setup and charge your Zune using the supplied cable for at least 30 minutes before use
32 GB capacity for up to 8,000 songs, 48 hours standard definition video, or 10 hours high definition video
3.3-inch OLED screen with 480 x 272 resolution and 16:9 display
HD Radio gives you access to many local stations with crystal-clear digital sound at no extra cost
Watch supported 720p HD movies, TV shows, and videos in high definition
I have a zune HD 16 gig that was sent to me by a U.S. friend. I find it to be superior to the ipod in just about every way. If you are serious about music and are a music collector, you will appreciate the zune software. It is very intuitive and allows you to edit album info and album images on your computer. You can also search for album info online to display the correct name of songs, the correct album image, etc. All really easy to use. The zune social allows you to see what your friends are listening to, and their friends, and so on... you can recommend music to friends by tagging songs as favourites on your social profile, and once the zune marketplace comes to Canada, we will be able to send a playlist to a friend and they can listen to it up to three times (I think its three times) for free. Currently I purchase my music in mp3 format from whatever source I want. It is all playable on my zune.
You can also upload songs from your zune player to your zune software on your computer. Among other things,this means I can download software onto another computer (i.e. at work) and download whatever music is on my zune at the office...or onto somebody else's computer who has a zune. The zune player itself has beautiful graphics. The ease of finding playlists, podcasts, or particular albums or artists is far better than anything I've tried on an ipod. Additionally, while a particular song is playing, a graphic of the artist is displayed behind the album cover, and you can click on a band bio and read extensive info on their history, in addition to getting a discography. Doesn't work so well for obscure Canadian indie bands, but surprisingly comprehensive. Getting songs, albums, playlists, podcasts, mp4 videos in high def, or photos onto the device is dead easy, you just drag and drop.
Also they have a 1-800 technical support line that people actually answer. Can't beat 'em as far as I can tell.
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2,376 of 2,439 people found the following review helpful
The 3rd generation's a charmSept. 16 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
Between me and my husband we've owned more MP3 players over the years than I can count, including Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few years I've settled down to one line of players. Why? Because I was happy to discover how well-designed and fun to use the underappreciated (and widely mocked) Zunes are.
I'll gear this review to 2 types of people: current Zune owners who are considering an upgrade, and people trying to decide between a Zune and an iPod. There are other players worth considering out there, like the Sony Walkman X, but I hope this gives you enough info to make an informed decision of the Zune vs players other than the iPod line as well.)
Zune and iPod: Most people compare the Zune to the Touch, but after seeing how slim and surprisingly small and light it is, I consider it to be a rather unique hybrid that combines qualities of both the Touch and the Nano. It's very colorful and lovely OLED screen is slightly smaller than the touch screen, but the player itself feels quite a bit smaller and lighter. It weighs about 2/3 as much, and is noticeably smaller in width and height, while being just a hair thicker.
Points of comparison: - Brighter OLED screen with more vivid color and better contrast OLED screens can wash out in direct sunlight more than others, but in almost any other situation they are clearly preferable, and have a marvelous eye-catching picture that needs to be seen to be appreciated. The screen has slighly lower resolution than the iPod Touch, but is also slightly smaller, so in the end video looks a little less pixellated when viewed closely, and very vivid.
- HD Radio If you live within the reception area of some HD radio stations this can be a surprisingly nice feature. For me it's not so much the slightly better sound quality as it is the additional streams of content that make this fun. For example, if you tune into an FM station, then it's playing what you here, and if you don't like it too bad. With an HD station, you may tune in and it will be shown with up to three signals to chose from labeled HD1, HD2, and HD3. HD1 may have whatever is playing on the FM version, HD2 may be news, and HD3 might be some alternative music w/ a different theme. For example one of our oldies station in the Boston area broadcasts a love-song themed selection on HD3. One caveat: if you don't have a strong enough signal, these HD versions can cut in and out, making them frustrating to listen to. But, when the signal is strong enough it's very enjoyable.
- 720p video output via (an over-priced) dock. When transferring video content to the Zune you can specify if it should be sized appropriately for playback on the Zune or TV, so if you do plan to just watch on your Zune you won't have the video taking up huge amounts of storage.
- Zune Pass subscription service This is my favorite feature that will keep me using a Zune until it's pried from my my desperate grasp. For $15 a month I get 10 DRM-free MP3 songs to keep, and unlimited access to millions of songs. As long as you would have bought at least 10 songs anyways that means you're paying only $5 for that access. It's better than Pandora, Slacker, LastFM or other services because you can listen to full CDs, specify playlists and tracks in the exact order you want, AND can either stream this music or store it on your Zune to listen to later, even if out of wifi range. Lots of people present subscription services as something you do INSTEAD of owning music, but at this cheap a price there's no reason you can't use this as a supplement to whatever purchases you make. It's not either/or, it's a wonderful "AND", especially if you're the type who likes to explore and enjoy a broad range of music.
Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass' favor.
- Wireless sync In addition to wireless net access, you can sync your Zune to your PC wirelessly, which can be quite convenient on occasion. The new Zune HD seems to have better wireless reception than my prior Zunes.
- Smart DJ Rhapsody first popularized a playlist construction service with its 'Channels' feature, and Apple followed with its 'Genius' feature. The idea is that you specify a song or artist, and the service will construct a playlist of similar music of both familiar and new artists for you to enjoy. The prior Zunes had a 'Channel' feature too, but I found it lacking in sophistication and accuracy. The 4.0 Zune Marketplace upgrade (the Zune equivalent of iTunes) now has a 'Smart DJ' feature that is a much improved version of the old Channels. I actually find it very useful now, and what's even better is that if you have Zune Pass you can specify whether it should pull music exclusive from your collection, from the Zune Pass selection, or from a combination of both. It's wonderfully flexible and lots of fun.
- Web Browsing The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as good as the iPod's. It works well, but isn't as fast as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on using the web browser that's not an issue, but if you're planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod's larger screen and better browser may be important.
- App Store Hands down, Apple's app store wins by a mile. It's a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I'm not sure I'd want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.
- Zune Marketplace and iTunes This is getting a bit more subjective, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like 'Mixview' that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you're listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of "neighbors" will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune "Social" is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.
- UI The HD's UI was a bold move that paid off. It may look cluttered and overly busy in screenshots, but to see it in action is to appreciate the design. It isn't always obvious, and the provided documentation is sparse, but a little experimentation will show you a UI with lots of flexibility, like a menu of favorites, newly added music, and a user-definable set of shortcuts to your favorite playlists, artists, HD Radio stations, etc. One quibble: it takes one too many clicks and touches to bring up the now playing screen after the display has 'gone to sleep' while you're listening to it. Other than that, the UI is delightful.
- Summary The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it'll do even better in those areas, but for now it's a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod's strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.
If you're still on the fence: grab your favorite earphones, head down to a Best Buy and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one sounds better to you, and which interface makes you smile more. Then you'll know which is right for you.
- Current Zune Owners (See, I didn't forget you! I think owners of any of the older flash players will be delighted at the upgrade, as long as money isn't an issue. Don't hesitate. Those who value the higher capacity of the 80gb or a 120gb will have a tougher choice. If you can't afford both, then you'll have to weigh the ability to be able to have all (or at least most) of your music stored on the device vs the HD radio, better display, and sleeker than a seal UI. As I said before, this new Zune is surprisingly small and light, and you should find one to get a feel for in person too, because then you can really evaluate how compelling those new features are to you. Oh, and don't forget it has an Equalizer if that matters!
Keep in mind: Microsoft has made it clear that the HD line is the future. They were great about giving new features to the older models in the past, but we're seeing a clear signal with the 4.0 Marketplace. Most of the cool new stuff is only going to the new kid on the block, and I think that will continue to be the case. They won't cut you out entirely, but if they're going to concentrate on making the HD succeed, then I suspect that is where most if not all of their future focus and effort will go.
Sorry for the huge review, but I'm really loving the new Zune, and hope this, as well as the excellent reviews some other people have written, will help you decide if it's the right choice for you.
***UPDATE October 2011***: Much has happened since I originally wrote this review. The Zune HD is still a great bargain, but some of its advantages are not as unique any more, the Zune Pass service has changed somewhat for new users, and there is talk of the Zune HD being discontinued. Details:
- At the time I wrote this Zune Pass was one of the few music subscription services out there. Now there are a plethora of choices, although the field will probably be consolidating over the next few months: Spotify is now the 800lb gorilla of these services, there are new and well regarded services like MOG and rdio, and at the time I write this Napster has just been bought by Rhapsody and all its subscribers are being folded in with them.
Why is this important to people considering purchasing a Zune? The greater variety of choices, and the increasing popularity of smartphones mean many people have many more choices when it comes to subscription music. If your main reason to get a Zune is to enjoy subscription music, but you already have a smartphone or iPod Touch, then you have many more excellent choices than back when I first wrote this review. Spotify, MOG, rdio, and Rhapsody are all very strong services, and all allow you to download and listen to fairly high quality bitrate music on one or more mobile devices. These services all cost $10/month for streaming to PCs, smartphones, and other devices like iPod Touches, iPads, Xooms or Galaxy Tabs, TiVos, Sonos, Roku, Google TV, Samsung Smart TVs, etc.
In response to this competitive pressure the Zune Pass service has morphed, and instead of being $15/month and offering 10 free songs per month to keep as part of that, it now costs only $10/month like these other services, but no longer has the 10 free songs. Existing Zune Pass users are "grandfathered in" at this time and can continue enjoying their 10 songs per month, but anyone subscribing going forward will not have that option. On the other hand they will only pay $10/month. One nice plus: they are offering a $99/year subscription that works out to $8.25 per month. Only Napster offered a discounted year subscription, and once they're folded into Rhapsody that option will be gone (at least in the US), so this will make Zune Pass one of the most inexpensive of these services if you're willing to subscribe for the year.
Finally, there are increasing rumors that Microsoft is discontinuing the Zune line. Since there were some postings on Microsoft sites these are more substantial than most, however at this point Microsoft is officially denying they have discontinued the Zune HD. However one thing is clear: even if they do stop manufacturing more Zunes, they are certainly going to support the Zune Pass service indefinitely going forward. It is increasingly integrated into their XBox platform, and while it may be rebranded it's most likely that anyone who uses it will continue to have it available for many years to come. Also, the whole Zune HD interface became the prototype for their "Metro" UI used in the latest generation of winphones, which also can use the Zune Pass services (as well as others!).
So, should you still buy a Zune HD player? If you have an android, iOS phone, or other portable device that can use any of these subscription services then it's less compelling these days because you have these other options for music subscription services and having lots of portable music available to you. BUT, if you don't have a smartphone, and/or want a dedicated music player that has better sound than most if not all smartphones, is light and well-designed, then one of the Zune HD players may still be a nice choice for you, especially at the steadily lowering prices.
947 of 1,012 people found the following review helpful
Zune HD Video ReviewSept. 19 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
Here is a simple video on the features and what the Zune HD player can do . . .
629 of 685 people found the following review helpful
Has come a long way since the "brick" ZuneSept. 15 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
Zune was the laughing stock a couple of years ago when Microsoft released the "brick" 1st-gen Zune. A joke went around about Microsoft's pathetic attempt to enter the "iPod market." So a year passed, and Zune remained a joke in the consumer electronics world and had to endure the jeers and torment of the Apple crowd. When the 2nd Gen Zunes came out, the Zune brand slowly started to see redemption. The Zune 80gb was deemed the first decent competitor to the iPod, but the brand was still in recovery from its hazing.
But for the first time, Microsoft has developed a Zune player that can finally use the words "downright sexy" to describe it. The Zune brand image is building up quickly with the release of the Zune HD, XBOX Live integration, and much-needed marketing.
With the rapid rise of the iPod Touch and iPhone, it's no surprise Microsoft came up with a touchscreen portable media player of its own. However, this is not a copy of the iPod touch at all. Sure the Zune HD features a touchscreen, accelerometer, app support, a strong web browser and other features that made the iPod Touch so popular.
However, the Zune HD has what the iPod Touch lacks, such as...
-ZunePass (Download all the music you want for $15/month, keep 10 songs per month DRM-Free) -720p HDMI output -An aesthetically nice software (Zune 4.0 interface is very pretty to look at, not a dull spreadsheet like iTunes) -An aesthetically nice device OS (Artist pictures and info float around while playing a song, it's cool) -OLED screen (brighter, more vibrant than LCD) -Free HD radio -Radio "tagging" (If you like a song you hear on the radio, "tag" it to add it to your cart for download) -A feature called "Smart DJ" that functions identically to the online radio service "Pandora" but has no limitations on skips and allows you to rate/download songs you like. Requires a ZunePass though. -XBOX Live integration -An advanced nVidia Tegra Chip (A couple of graphically-intense 3D games are coming out this fall, like Burnout: Ferrari Edition) -On-demand music (play music online with your Zune HD, don't need to download it to your hard drive)
Again, the Zune HD is just simply amazing. With the Nvidia Tegra chip and highly capable processor, the potential for this device is endless. The Zune HD is supposed to be a portable gaming platform to compete head-to-head with the Nintendo DS and PSP brands. I'm excited to see Burnout: Ferrari Edition on it this fall. I'm also looking forward to see more apps as well.
Could this device take significant market share from Apple's iPod Touch? With the right marketing to increase public awareness of this product, yes it definitely can. Every large monopolizing entity like Kmart, GM, and even Apple will dominate a market completely for some period of time. However, times change and something better always comes along. Is this Zune HD the better alternative to the iPod? With some more releases in the app store and updates, it clearly will be. The question is will Apple change and copy the Zune's features including the Zune Pass? I don't know, we'll see. The Zune Pass will clearly become the new standard of digital music services and the $1-per-song marketplace model will not be competitive much longer.
I've been getting a lot of comments on my review saying that the Zune's HD radio does not compensate for the lack of online radio services found on the iPod Touch (such as Pandora). I believe I already said in my review that with some more app development the Zune HD will be a strong competitor to the iPod Touch. However, who in the world needs Pandora if you have a Zune Pass? Your Zune will learn your musical tastes and give you recommendations. You can download/stream all the music you want without limits. But if you like Pandora, I suggest playing with the Zune's "Smart DJ". It will create a streaming playlist of songs based on your overall musical tastes or play specifically based on a certain artist.
I also forgot to add the Zune HD does not have an external speaker. If that's a super-important feature to you, the iPod Touch may suit you for now. However you can always get headphone couplers or battery-powered mini-speakers to remedy this.
The new apps on the Zune released this fall include some amazing 3D games. They look just as good (if not better) than what you would find on a PSP or Nintendo DS. Among these games are Van's Sk8, Burnout: Ferrari Edition, Audiosurf Tilt, and many others. Twitter has been released as well and Facebook should follow soon. I have no complaints about the Zune after owning it for a few months. I'm convinced the Zune brand provides the best music experience service ever created.
***UPDATE*** October 2010
It's been a year since I bought the Zune HD. I will never look back at buying another mp3 player. I also discovered in tech blogs that the Zune HD2 is coming. It will have the Windows Phone 7 OS without the phone features (iPod Touch equivalent to the Windows Phones), which means that it will work with all the apps developed by third party programmers. The Windows Phone 7 OS is simply the OS on the Zune HD, but enhanced for more productivity and third party development. It's a strong mobile OS that has an unprecedented amount of flow and integration between all the apps. Microsoft claims there is no need for a copy and paste function because the OS is smart enough to figure out what task you will want to do with the information on the screen.
I've been getting a lot of questions about sound quality. The sound quality is excellent and is certainly superior to the iPod's which is reputed to have poor sound processing hardware (It's all in the exterior design and marketing that brings its success). Of course, really compulsive audiophiles might be happier with the Creative X-Fi portable player but 99% of us wouldn't hear the difference.
There are now 40 free apps in the marketplace. Although it is no iTunes App Store, they are quality apps and the games are a lot of fun especially when I'm waiting in a lobby. The Zune HD2 is where third-party development will take place though, and hopefully that will bring a lot of apps to the table.
***UPDATE*** September 2011 ***THE FUTURE OF ZUNE***
I am getting a lot of questions regarding the future of Zune. The Zune HD has been out for two years (well beyond the typical product lifecycle) and we have had no recent indications of a Zune HD2 still in the works. Microsoft claims the Windows Phone 7 was the Zune hardware release for the year (a great OS by the way, it's pretty much a Zune HD with smartphone capabilities). But what about those of us who don't want the phone? The Zune HD seems to slowly be in the process of phasing out production, and there are no clues of a new device to replace them, so should us Zune users start panicking? Will the Zune Pass, Zune service, and devices be no more?
To simply put it, NO. According to several tech blogs with inside connections in the company, Microsoft seems to be transitioning the Zune brand into something else... something bigger picture. With the absorption of Zune developers into the Xbox 360 department, it is a possibility we will see "Zune" become "Xbox" before our eyes. Every Zune service and device will probably be rebranded under the "Xbox" flag, maintaining the same licenses and music/video services associated with Zune. After all, Microsoft is on the path of "One OS to rule them all." The company wants to offer a uniform experience between the PC, the Windows Phone, and Xbox 360. They all have the same GUI and interfaces. Windows 8 will be 100% integrated with Xbox Live. There's even evidence Xbox 360 games will work on Windows 8 PC's!
Anyway, I digress. There are 35 million members on Xbox Live. Why not tap further into that market and offer them a handheld device with the Xbox brand on it? It makes no sense to call the device "Zune" when in fact they are more drawn to the name "Xbox". So ladies and gentlemen, while I am pretty convinced the Zune brand will be no more, all its services and hardware we know and love will now be under the "Xbox" banner.
***SHOULD I BUY THE ZUNE HD THEN?***
You need a music/video player? You hate iTunes? Then yes, by all means still buy the Zune HD. Nothing else out there matches the value of the Zune hardware and the Zune Pass. If the Zune brand is phased out, you're Zune HD will probably be supported under the Xbox marketplace service after an update, and your licenses and music pass will be maintained. I would not worry. I can't imagine Microsoft pulling the plug on the digital distribution of music and videos. I would simply rebrand the name of the service.
80 of 83 people found the following review helpful
Complete OverviewSept. 17 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
The following is a breakdown of all specs and features available on the ZuneHD.
*The ZuneHD supports up to 384Kpbs bitrate WMA, as well as MP3, MP4, M4a, and M4b.
I transfer my music to the ZuneHD using WMA Variable Bitrate which gives the absolute best audio quality (save for the impractical lossless audio which can exceed 30MB for a single song). This bitrate gives me the ability to connect the Zune to home theater speakers and have excellent audio reproduction. If using the ZuneHD dock you can even connect the Zune via the optical digital audio for the very best signal transfer.
*The screen's resolution is 480x272 pixels, video ouput maximum resolution is 1280x720 at 15Mbps.
This is one area where the ZuneHD truly shines over the ipod. The ipod has a maximum output of 2.5Mbps for video, only 1/6th what the ZuneHD is capable of. This is thanks to the Nvidia Tegra processor. Onboard video is exceptionally clear on the OLED screen, in a direct comparison between the Zune80 LCD screen and the ZuneHD OLED the ZuneHD is the clear winner. The colors are incredible vibrant and far exceed what I was expecting.
*Zune 4.0 software
-The Zune software makes it easy to organize and manage your media the way you want. It also features interesting graphic transitions when performing various functions.
-The "now playing" tab gives you an ever changing album cover background, or a intuitive slideshow of artist photos and album info based on the song being played.
-The Zune Marketplace gives you the option to purchase individual songs for 99¢ each, or whole albums for an average of $9. By far the best option though is going with a Zune Pass, for $15 a month you receive unlimited song downloads plus you get to add 10 songs per month permanently to your collection (you may keep these even if you cancel your membership in the program). The Zune Pass allows you to put all the music you want on up to 3 computers and 3 Zune devices associated with your account. There is truly no other music deal out there as good as this.
*(or lack thereof)
The ZuneHD has only a few games and apps available, however they are are all free. You get to choose which ones you want to download and install from the marketplace. Currently there are 27 games (my favorite being Audiosurf Tilt) and 12 available apps: Calculator, MSN Weather, live mail and Twitter standout for usefulness. After an update in November 3D games were added which take full advantage of the Tegra chip.
*Built-in FM HD Radio tuner
One of my favorite features of the Zune has been the radio function, with the new ZuneHD you also have access to HD radio (which is simply digital radio as opposed to analog). HD radio is broadcasted at CD quality sound and is static-free, each FM station that broadcasts HD radio offers up to 3 music channels on their station. If you move out of range of the Digital signal you are automatically switched to the analog broadcast.
*802.11b/g connectivity (WI-FI)
-The ZuneHD can wirelessly sync media from your computer saving you the trouble of lugging your cord around, unfortunately it doesn't charge wirelessly :P
-The internet browser features a touch-keyboard for site navigation however it doesn't currently have flash player support. I wouldn't be surprised to see it added in the near future though (Zune has been notorious for updating firmware and adding features shortly after the release of previous players) Personally the internet browser isn't a big deal to me as I'd rather browse the internet and watch youtube videos and such on a bigger screen.
-One of the best wireless features is the ability to stream music through player itself. If you have the Zune Pass you can play all the music you want from anywhere there is wireless internet access, making the ZuneHD in effect a complete portable music library.
*2-3 hours to fully charge
Battery life is entirely dependent on how you use the device. Video and audio bitrate having wireless on/off etc. all affect how long you can go on a single charge. With low-bitrate media, wireless off, and minimal navigation you can get up to 33 hours of music playback and up to 8.5 hours of video. You can expect to get between 8-16 hours using it under normal operation.
*OLED 3.3 inch (480x272 pixels) 16:9 aspect ratio
-As I mention in the video section the OLED screen is much better than an LCD screen, the color contrast is literally breathtaking and rivals the color reproduction of my HDTV but on a much smaller scale. The ZuneHD video demo features a plethora of different colors and shows off all the OLED screen is capable of. When watching videos or browsing through music I still havn't gotten over how insanely pure the colors look. Some have claimed the OLED screen appears washed out in sunlight, I viewed it in direct sunlight on Medium brightness and find only a minimal difference between it and my LCD based Zune.
-The touchscreen features multi-touch and an accelerometer. It is easy to navigate, responds wonderfully to the speed of your finger when scrolling, and precisely selects even on the smallest objects (such as the qwerty keyboard used for web-browsing).
The very first thing that you will notice upon handling the ZuneHD for the first time is how insanely light it is. The older Zune 80/120 weighed 4.5 oz. Even the ipod touch weights 4.1 oz. You can stick the HD in your pocket and practically forget it's there.
*Other standout features of the the ZuneHD
-There is almost no bootup time thanks to the flash memory.
-You can store and view any .jpg picture on the device.
-The Tegra processor powers premium graphics and transitions beyond what you'd expect from a typical media player.
-When browsing music you can choose to view by album, artist, song, or genre. The layout under the album category has been improved to near perfection over the simple "scroll down the list" method used in previous Zunes. The new layout starts with a grid of small album covers (12 viewable on-screen at a time) from which you can easily get to the album you want even if you have several hundred. When you click on a small album icon it moves to a more in depth listing which gives you multiple options.
-There is a "quickplay" list to the left of the main menu that lets you easily find your most recently added media and most recently played media. There is also a spot to pin your favorites for easy access in the quickplay list. These are all represented by pictorial icons.
-Another awesome feature of the HD is how it displays the artist's picture as a background for their music when you view an album or listen to a song, it's just one more ingenious feature that adds to the overall ZuneHD experience. When you are listening to music it will also go into the screensaver mode similar to what is found in the "now playing" area of the PC software, looks pretty sweet.
The Zune has come a long way since the original "brick Zune". The new Zune is now thinner, lighter, and more feature-laden than any other PMP on the market today. To fully appreciate it you really need to get your hands on one and try it out. You'll like what you see.
53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
Very well doneSept. 23 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
This little mp3 player is just plain awesome. I've had a 16gb g2 itouch for the last 6 months and while i loved the Touch itself, I was getting pretty frustrated with itunes. I wasn't really planning on changing players, but when i noticed the HD release was well received, i decided to give Zune a shot. I won't list the pros and cons of the Zune since there's a lot of that already, but hopefully i can help someone out who's on the fence between the Touch and HD.
Though the HD and Touch are definitely competing, they offer completely different user experiences. The Touch is VERY straight forward, and while that's great for ease of use, i got bored with the user interface. The HD, on the other hand, has a small learning curve, but once you get the hang of the OS, it is very well thought out. The menus are set up perfectly, with subtle animations while navigating. One of my favorite things, which may sound odd, is being deep in a menu and able to go back all the way to the home menu without having to press the physical button on the front.
I personally use my players for music probably 80% of the time. What I love about the Zune is that it really feels like MS's focus with the player was on the media it plays. The sound quality is great and I'd say superior to the Touch. Get yourself a nice pair of headphones with any player you get! The display while you're playing music is very neat, adding to the entire experience. It also automatically downloads the 'bio' of the band/artist, which is really, really cool. One of the best features (for me) is the HD radio and the ability to tag the song you're listening to. All of my favorite stations come in HD perfectly around here and after having this on an mp3 player, i couldn't do without it. I haven't played videos yet, but anyone can see the quality of the screen. Amazing is an understatement. I find no difference in ability to see under direct sunlight between the oled on the HD and the lcd on the Touch- don't know what everyone is talking about. In fact, if I'm in direct sunlight, I'm usually wearing polarized sunglasses and can't read any screens anyways lol
Then there's the internet and apps. I'd say the internet is fairly comparable between both players, but the Touch is more refined. Both do the job when I'm out, but if I'm at home, I'll use my laptop or desktop. I'm guessing the apps on the Touch will always be 2nd to none. However, i found myself never using them. I know a lot of people love them, but i found most of them unnecessary. The games are pretty much the only things i used to burn some time occasionally. Microsoft currently has a handful of games for the Zune, which is already good enough for me lol
Back to what made me switch from the Touch... itunes. I took a chance on the switch to Zune software, but couldn't be happier. Though I haven't used the software for more than a few days, it is without a question, a better experience than itunes.
I am thoroughly pleased with my Zune HD purchase. For those of you trying to decide between the Touch and Zune, you just need to think about this... If you see yourself using the player for mostly internet, apps, and games you'll want the Touch. If you're like me, and use the player mostly for the media... especially the music... the Zune HD is for you.